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Polar Bears: Here Today, Gone Tomorrow?

Polar bears enjoyed a rare victory when a federal judge awarded them an area in Alaska for a national reserve.

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Are polar bears cute and cuddly or terrifying apex predators? Both, actually!

This week, polar bears enjoyed a rare victory when a federal judge awarded them an area of Alaska, larger than the state of California for a national reserve. In honour of this news, we look at five lesser known facts about polar bears.

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1. Did You Know That Polar Bears Are the Largest Predators on Land?

When born, polar bear cubs are just 440 gm heavy but an adult male polar bear can weigh anywhere between 245 to 587 kg and female polar bears weigh between 89 and 311 kg. Think about that the next time you want to mess with one of them!

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2. Their Natural Home Is Within the Arctic Circle; The Word “Arctic” Comes From the Greek Word for Bear

Today, there are about 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears in the wild. Canada is home to a majority of the world’s polar bears, and USA, Russia, Norway and Denmark are the other countries with significant polar bear populations.

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3. Polar Bears Have Evolved With Special Adaptations to Survive the Harsh Arctic Environment Where Temperatures Can Drop Below -50 Degrees Celsius in Winter.

These bears are strong swimmers and the only bear to be listed as a “marine mammal” by several countries. Multiple layers of fat and fur help the bear survive these extreme temperatures. Funny story – polar bears can overheat when running, which is why they tend to walk slowly and rest often. That sounds like an excuse we can all support!

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4. Polar Bears Are Listed as a Threatened Species by the IUCN Red List

A warming climate and a rapid decline in Arctic sea ice has meant that these bears are slowly losing the icy habitat necessary for their survival. Worryingly, experts have predicted that if nothing is done, polar bears could be extinct within half a century.

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5. February 27 Is Celebrated as International Polar Bear Day in Order to Raise Awareness About How a Changing Climate Affects Them

This year, Polar Bear International issued the “Thermostat Challenge”. The Challenge calls on all participants to reduce their use of artificial heating and cooling devices in order to save energy.

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Polar bears are magnificent animals that are living testament to the way humans are causing drastic and often irreversible changes to fragile ecosystems. Climate change is a global problem and it needs solutions in which all of us participate.

To conclude on a happier note, here’s an adorable video of Nora, an 83-day-old polar bear cub at the Columbus Zoo in the USA:

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(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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